Man living with breast cancer shares experience

Jerry Rubenstein has stage four metastatic breast cancer and now it has spread to other organs

Jerry Rubenstein has stage four metastatic breast cancer and now it has spread to other organs.


WKBN 27 First News learned that Jerry Rubenstein passed away on November 16, 2017.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s not common to hear about men with breast cancer but living with breast cancer is Jerry Rubenstein’s daily reality.

In 2003, he felt a small lump in his breast. Months later, he was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in his life.

“Originally, I was told it’s Stage 1 and I was told it’s never going to come back,” Jerry said. “So they did a mastectomy on me.”

Throughout his life, Jerry prioritized his health. He was an avid runner for years.

“I was always in really good shape,” Jerry added. “I used to run over six miles every other day. I lifted weights every other day.”

He hoped that, like the doctors told him, the cancer was gone. But in 2013, it came back.

“This time it had spread to the lymphatic system,” Jerry said. “The spine, spleen, eventually it went to a couple other places, the lungs really bad…bronchial tubes really bad.”

The diagnosis was metastatic breast cancer. Jerry had to stop running — he was coughing up blood.

“A complete nightmare, to tell you the truth,” his wife, Debbie, said of their shared reality. “I wake up every day thinking about it. That’s the first thing that crosses my mind.”

Their friends describe Jerry and Debbie as soulmates.

While he stopped running, weightlifting became part of his daily ritual.

“Seeing him going downstairs every day and exercising, and he does not give up,” Debbie said. “So that gives me hope. And that’s what the doctor tells us, that half of the treatment is exercising.”

One of Jerry’s biggest struggles is finding other men to talk to.

“I’ve tried finding local breast cancer support groups that would allow a man but I’ve always been turned away,” Jerry explained.

He added that there’s a perception that men don’t get breast cancer and that it’s embarrassing. Perception, he said, even caused his insurance company to deny a prescription from his doctor.
“Said because I was not a post-menopausal woman, I could not go on the medication.”
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is 100 times less common in men than women. Almost all breast cancer clinical trials and research are done in women.
“All the treatments I’m on were designed for women,” Jerry said. “I’ve found one or two of them just don’t work on men.”
Metastatic cancer of any type is not curable but it is treatable.
“I keep plugging away and I want to publicize it and let men know that they can get it. Because a lot of men don’t know that they have breast tissue, let alone that they could get breast cancer.”

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